From the Storage Bin: The Goofiest Mega Man Toy is Also The Best

From the Storage Bin: The Goofiest Mega Man Toy is Also The Best

Mega Man has seen some incredibly ridiculous merchandise over the years. This piece might take the prize, though.

Hard as it may be to believe, America did not receive every single Mega Man game ever released back in the day. It seemed like it, sometimes, when four or five different Mega Man titles would hit within the space of a year, but sometimes we missed out.

One of the most notorious gaps in America's Mega Man collection came in 1997's Mega Man Battle & Chase. It was a mascot racing game (because of course it was; what mascot didn't get a racer in the '90s?) that tried to tie in with the Mega Man concept by allowing you to strip parts from your competitors' karts after a victory. You could then incorporate those components into Mega Man's kart (which was actually Rush the robo-dog, in his largest and most curiously specific modification).

It was a pretty good gimmick, honestly. Mega Man has always been about absorbing the powers of vanquished enemies, and the ability to tinker and upgrade a go-kart was pretty sophisticated for the time. It also made use of the PlayStation's capabilities not only by featuring fully polygonal racers (unlike Mario Kart 64's pre-rendered sprites) and running commentary by a couple of announcers. And really, as spin-offs go, it sure made a lot more sense than Mega Man Soccer.

It seemed like a perfect fit for the U.S. audience, too. Americans loved Mega Man and we love racing go-karts, so what's not to love? Capcom showed off the game to magazines and at trade shows and even sank some dough into a print ad campaign for Battle & Chase. And then... it never came to the U.S. According to Wikipedia, it failed Sony's concept approval due to a glut of mascot racers on the market at the time — a claim that seems somewhat spurious given the genre's proliferation on PlayStation in the following years. Who knows, though? Sony's approvals department has always been baffling, and the Mega Man series supposedly had a tough time in the PS1 era; reportedly Mega Man 8 and X4, which committed the heinous crime of being 2D action games, only made it to the U.S. because of all the goodwill Capcom generated with Resident Evil.

Whatever the case, Mega Man Battle & Chase never made it to the U.S.... which means Americans also missed out on the most glorious Mega Man tie-in merchandise ever: The official Battle & Chase RC car.

See the racer in action... if you dare.

The Battle & Chase RC racer didn't simply recreate Mega Man in his freakish Rushmobile; it even came with a bunch of little trinkets: Traffic cones, targets with stickers of enemies on them that you could knock down, and a ramp. There's not much to say about it — it's a 40MHz RC car with two sticks and a feature that causes it to pivot 90 degrees when you reverse (presumably because the designers assumed you'd be driving into walls a lot). It's made of fairly cheap plastic, and the battery case has a tendency to pop open when it jumps the ramp.

Despite those flaws, I can't help but love it. The racer is a relic of a bygone day where Mega Man could inspire merchandise geared toward kids rather than collector-focused small-run hyper-posable premium figurines. And a relic of a bygone day when I would go to the trouble of importing dumb toys from Japan on a whim. And finally, a relic of a time when there were even Mega Man games to be denied localization for the U.S. Ah, memories.

Battle & Chase eventually did make its way to the U.S. as a bonus title in the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for GameCube and PlayStation 2. (Sony eventually relented, apparently.) But Nikko's Battle & Chase RC car never did. I feel like we're all poorer for the loss, somehow.

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